What’s Inside a USB Isolator?

Coil Die

 

In this acid powered teardown, [Lindsay] decapped a USB isolator to take a look at how the isolation worked. The decapped part is an Analog Devices ADUM4160. Analog Devices explains that the device uses their iCoupler technology, which consists of on chip transformers.

[Lindsay] followed [Ben Krasnow]‘s video tutorial on how to decap chips, but replaced the nitric acid with concentrated sulphuric acid, which is a bit easier to obtain. The process involves heating the chip while applying an acid. Over time, the packaging material is dissolved leaving just the silicon. Sure enough, one of the three dies consisted of five coils that make up the isolation transformers. Each transformer has 15 windings, and the traces are only 4μm thick.

After the break, you can watch a time lapse video of the chip being eaten by hot acid. For further reading, Analog Devices has a paper on how iCoupler works [PDF warning].

[Thanks to Chris for the tip!]

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VoLumen — The Most Advanced Persistence of Vision Display Yet

volumetric

Whoa. We’re just blown away by this new project by [Maximilian Mali] and [Sebastian Haushofer]. It’s a stacked Persistance of Vision display, with 9 layers — effectively creating a Volumetric 3D POV Display.

We recently shared one of [Maximilian's] other projects, The Ripper CNC Machine. As it turns out, the reason he built The Ripper was to aid in the manufacture of his VoLumen project. He’s been designing these Volumetric 3D displays for about 3 years now, with the first iteration called the viSio, capable of 40 fps 3D video without the need for any 3D glasses.

The new and improved VoLumen features 34 micro-controllers, each with 512MB flash memory for storing animation data. In total there are 1024 high power RGB LEDs, which draw a whopping 200W at full load, making it bright, crisp and visible even in direct sunlight. It’s an incredible project that [Maximilian] started when he was only 16 years old.

You have to see the video of this thing in action.

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Sublime Text as an Arduino IDE

Stino IDE

If you’ve played with an Arduino, you’ve probably been frustrated by the IDE. It works, but it’s not the best editor. It’s especially painful for bigger files and larger projects. The Stino plugin for Sublime Text aims to solve this issue by bringing the full functionality of the Arduino IDE to the Sublime Text editor.

Sublime Text is a powerful text editor with support for most programming languages. What it’s missing is support for compiling and uploading code to an Arduino. Stino bridges that gap. Sublime is a commercial product, and retails for $70 USD. However Sublime does have an indefinite trial period, so Stino can be evaluated for free. Stino itself is an open source plugin written in Python, and you can contribute to the project on Github.

After installing Sublime and Stino, you point the plugin at an Arduino install folder. It then allows you to build and flash directly from the editor. For anyone who’s been frustrated with the Arduino IDE, this looks like a slick solution.

[Thanks to Matt for the tip!]

The Raspberry Eye Sees All

rasp pi eyes

[Roman Rolinsky] wanted to try to do something interesting with his Raspberry Pi and a 2.8″ LCD he had laying about… So he made a rather bulky version of Google Glass.

We’ve seen a few examples of home brew Google Glass before, or even real-life subtitle glasses used for translation on the fly, but what we really like about [Roman's] project (besides the fact he hosted it on our very own awesome project hosting site) is that he’s put together the projection system himself out of basic components.

To create the HUD, he’s using a semi-transparent mirror which he took out of an Eye of Horus Beamsplitter game – which is a really cool real-life puzzle board game like those games where you have to reflect the laser to solve a puzzle. He’s then using a 3x Fresnel magnification lens which is placed over top of his 2.8″ LCD in a 3D printed enclosure. This magnifies and reflects the image onto the mirror which is placed directly over his eye, allowing for a see through display.

We’ve asked for a demonstration video, so if you follow his project you’ll get all the future updates of his Raspberry Eye.

Hackaday Links: April 20, 2014

hackaday-links-chain

[Josh] hit the same issue we’ve faced before: cable modems don’t match a form factor and usually don’t make themselves easy to mount on something. We could complain about routers as well, but at least most of those have keyhole slots so you can hang them on some screws. Inspiration struck and he fabricated his own rack-mount adapter for it. Velcro holds it in place, with a cutout bezel to see the status lights and an added fan to keep things cool.

Here’s a pair of strange but possibly interesting ones that were sent in separately. The first is an analysis of how much energy short-run CNC prototyping consumes versus traditional manufacturing. The other is an article that [Liz] wrote about getting started with CNC mill bits. She says she compiled all that she learned as she was getting started in the field and wants to save others the effort.

This one goes back several years, but who doesn’t love to hear about a voice-controlled wheelchair?

So you can solder QFN parts but you can’t hammer a nail straight into a piece of wood? The answer, friend, is a laser guided hammer. Someone hire this [Andybot] person, because the solution to the problem shows the ability to out-think an interesting dilemma: how do you put a laser in a hammer head and still use it to hit things?

We’ve seen a lot of these long-range WiFi hacks over the years. This one is worth looking at because of the work done to create an outdoor mount that will stand the test of time.

And finally, we’re still really fond of this 2-bit paper processor that helps you wrap your brain around what’s going on with those silicon wafers that rule our everyday lives. [glomCo] liked it as well, and actually coded an emulator so that you can play with it without printing anything out on paper. We think it takes away some of the fun, but what an excellent programming exercise!

Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: Stargate

stargate

The 90s were a remarkable time for Sci-Fi movies, in that there actually were sci-fi movies, and not sequels to a reboot of yet another comic book movie. One of the breakout hits from this era was Stargate, the film and three syndicated television series. With a corpus this large, a few Stargate builds made it into our Sci Fi contest, and from the looks of things, they’re pretty cool.

The Ma’Tok Staff

546381397503980641The Ma’Tok staff is an energy weapon used by Jaffa warriors that fires a concentrated plasma bust over 70 yards. While we question the utility of a weapon that’s only accurate to 70 yards on the battlefield (like, arrows are better, man) [frankstripod] is making his own version. Instead of plasma bolts, it’ll be a hairspray-powered PVC potato cannon.

It’s totally not a tricorder

scannerThe Ancients in Stargate Atlantis had a multifunction handheld device capable of detecting life signs, observing multiple frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum, and finding power sources.  Basically, it’s a smartphone that’s not from Star Trek. This scanner became an important piece of commandeered technology, and these guys are building their own. Qi wireless charging, touch screen, IR transceiver, and everything a real tricorder should be.

Wait. Where did he get Naquadah?

Stargate

What good would a post on Stargate builds be without an actual Stargate? [shlonkin] and [dkopta] are doing just that, complete with a rotating right and light-up chevrons. Here’s a video. Video below, of course.

The Sci-Fi contest runs until the end of the month, so there’s still time for you to get in on the action and get your hands on some really great prizes. We’re giving away O’scopes, soldering stations, dev boards, some sweet Sci-Fi prizes, and awesome Hackaday T-shirts.

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Blinky LED Necklace That Actually Looks Chic

LED bib necklace by Agy

[Agy] a fabric hacker in Singapore has made a chic light sensitive LED necklace, and written up the tutorial on her blog  Green Issues by Agy. The lovely thing about this hack is that it doesn’t look like a breadboard round her neck, and most of the non-electronic components have been upcycled. [Agy] even used Swarovski crystals as LED diffusers for extra bling.

Using a LilyPad Arduino with a light sensor and a few LEDs, [Agy's] circuit is not complicated. She seems to be just branching out in to wearable tech, so it is nice that she learnt to program different modes for bright and low light (see video below). Her background in sewing, refashioning and upcycling does show through in her crafty use of an old pair of jeans and lace scraps for this project.

We love tech focused jewelry like [TigerUp's] LED matrix pendants or [Armilar's] Nixie-ify Me Necklace, but they do scream Geek. DIY electronically enhanced accessories are becoming more commonplace with the variety of micro-controller platforms expanding rapidly. Low energy wearable boards like MetaWear are making it easy for the tech to be discreet and easily connected to your smartphone.  3D printing is enabling us to create durable enclosures, settings and diffusers like the ones used for LED Stegosaurus Spikes. With all these things, hobby wearable projects can not only be functional and durable, but can also look great too.

Do you think this necklace would look out of place in a non-geeky gathering? Have you got any helpful tips for [Agy's] code? Have you tried using gems or crystals as diffusers and what were the results? Let us know in the comments below.

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